Poison – Double Dose: Ultimate Hits

It is certainly a crime against music that the New York Dolls are opening for Poison and Mötley Crüe this month at Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood. The opening band for Poison should be The Ramones. Too bad that most of them are dead. All the members of Poison are still with us, though, and they’re having the last laugh now. Just consider that they can put out yet another greatest-hits collection – in addition to a box set – and keep redefining their importance. The only thing wrong with the 35 tracks on Double Dose: Ultimate Hits is that they’ll only be ignored by some folks who might really love these songs.

That isn’t to say that hipsters won’t be hanging around to see Poison after David, Syl, and their fine new band leave the stage. You’ll find a few creeps banging their chuckleheads and giggling over their big plans to pull out their lighter during “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” Those types will never understand that Poison was having sex with plenty of truly groovy chicks back in 1987. They shared some skanks with Mötley Crüe, but Poison also won over the aging punk gals who understood that Bret, C.C., Rikki and Bobby were the next logical step from Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Marky/Tommy – and Herman’s Hermits and The 1910 Fruitgum Company before them.

Double Dose mostly makes its case with several album tracks of lyrical and heavy pop tunes. You don’t have to rely on the faint praise of forgotten obscurities like “Fallen Angel” and “Be The One,” though. Hits like “Talk Dirty To Me,” and “Nothin’ But A Good Time” remain perfectly punky tunes that saved us from Howard Jones and Tears for Fears becoming the future of pop. Of course, Poison wasn’t some high concept outfit. A take on Sweet’s “Little Willy” can’t redeem predictable covers of Grand Funk Railroad and Loggins & Messina. At least they don’t try to look cool by covering a band like Talking Heads, and it’s fairly subversive when they lighten up “We’re an American Band.” They also do a fine job with their Marshall Tucker Band tribute.

It’s true that most of this greatness happened over the course of the long-running band’s first three albums. That’s what the audience at Aaron’s Amphitheatre is paying for, anyway. That still reduces detractors to insisting that there’s nothing good to be said about “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” They’re correct in the sense that the song has Poison sounding like American Music Club and some other earnest ’90s acts. The good news is that Double Dose includes that single’s forgotten b-side of “Livin’ For The Minute.” Listen to that lost gem and hear the sound that The Ramones were desperately trying for on Animal Boy and Halfway to Sanity. They finally nailed it for 1989’s Brain Drain – but probably because The Ramones had Poison to show them the way.

Double Dose: Ultimate Hits